I enjoy being a part of a couple tribes of Dads and Husbands. These are like-minded men who have a desire to be a part of a band of brothers who are there to support each other as we level up as Dads & Husbands.
Often I hear or read in these groups from men who feel their wife is holding them back. Those statements normally go like:
I want to go on that Vegas weekend with the guys, but my wife said no.
I have this great side business idea, yet my wife does not have the growth mindset to see the potential.
I really feel a calling to encourage my wife to go do this thing I think she would be passionate about, but she does not seem to be interested.
No matter the topic, the words, or how creative she gets with saying no, I admit I have felt at times that Kristina was not being very supportive of an idea. I have even used the old saying, “It’s better to ask for forgiveness, than for permission” too.
To be blunt, I do not feel I should ever need to ask my wife permission to do anything, however, I’m not a lone wolf, I’m not the dictator, and my actions do impact her, so I have learned……..still learning actually…….. to pause and ask myself why! Why is she hesitant? Why is she against it? Why is she ignoring this?
I trust Kristina fully and even after 20 years together I’m still learning that even if I do not like her words or approach, her intent and motivation to hesitate or disagree with me is rooted in very real thoughts, emotions, and/or concerns. By allowing myself to step into her shoes, I have found there are three leading issues, which would normally cause her to not jump on board with my ideas so quickly or even at all.
The first reason she may not be supporting my idea is simple, its because my past behaviors are an indication of my future ones.
This could be because of small past behaviors or major ones. If I asked my wife to invest money into a project, and to-date 90% of my projects have not shown a return on our money and/or have taken our accounts to nearly zero, she is likely lacking trust in my judgment, because my past actions have caused this.
For me and on a much deeper level, if I talk to Kristina about going away for a weekend with the guys, my past behaviors in our marriage have planted a seed of doubt or distrust with her to the core. This idea will always give her anxiety. Her hesitation is rooted in the distrust from my previous indiscretions in our marriage.
I have to remind myself that it’s my fault and accept that even a decade later, there are consequences for my behaviors. The only way to overcome this is with me creating a better history of past behaviors, by demonstrating through baby steps I can be trusted again.
The second reason she might not be supportive of my idea is that the risk is too large.
In our marriage, Kristina and I have different comfort zones with risk. We have different emotions attached to money. We even value time differently. When looking at foundational needs, her and I are very different. Sure we share some of the same foundational needs, like keeping our kids safe and our home from falling down, but her and I differ on things like how much is enough money in the bank or how much “free time” we should have.
An example for me could be me talking with Kristina about spending money on another podcast or website. No matter the project, if she feels I’m taking our savings to low or committing too much of our monthly income to my “side hustles” or “hobbies”, she will feel like I’m threatening her foundational need to have X amount of money in the bank and X amount of money coming in a month! 18 years married and we are still learning to communicate these lines in the sand.
The constraint does not have to be money either, Kristina could feel unhappy or hesitant about me committing time outside the home as well. Maybe she does not feel like I’m helping out enough around the home. Maybe she does not feel like we are spending enough time together, or maybe she is worried I will regret missing out on time with our kids who are growing up quickly!
Even if I think the risk is acceptable, it could be too much for her. Compromise may be a solution, but if it’s those foundational needs, which she feels is being risked, I want to love and respect her and accept that if it’s too much for her, it’s too much for us.
The third reason she may not be into my idea is simply that she is not!
Just because Kristina may not want to take a class with me, or start another charity, or run off for a weekend with me, may have nothing to do with fear, trust, time, or other needs, it could simply just be she does not want to!
I was talking with a young man the other evening who was feeling like his wife was holding them back because she did not want to invest into a rental property. Of course in this example, she could be feeling anxiety for any of the first two reason we just talked about, but in this case, he later learned she just did not want to. She was not as passionate or as interested as he was into this idea of flipping houses.
I’m the king of this one and I struggle with it too. For example, Kristina did not want to do this blog or podcast with me, she was very hesitant at first. She just does not share the same level of excitement with the idea as I did. In fact, she could think of other ways she could spend this time.
We made a compromise in this regard, she would join me on the podcast, but it’s my project. I do the legwork, she just enjoys the time with me and our topics. She enjoys it very much now, as long as I do not make it more work for her!
Ok, now what?
I don’t want to flip houses, but using that example, if I asked Kristina to flip a house with me, she would say no! If I pause and ask myself why I would begin to think about the 3 areas above.
- Does she not like the risk?
- Does she not like the idea of me spending more time outside the home?
- She could tell me to go ahead, but draw a line in the sand and tell me she is not taking part in it. But, the fact remains that my past behavior would lead her to understand that I will likely overcommitment my time and at some point, she may likely have to step in on the project to help.
- I also have to accept that she may just simply not want to flip a house. She’s my partner and has that veto!
So, our spouse not supporting an idea of ours could be less about her having a fixed mindset or holding us back….
……..It’s normally more about her feeling anxiety from past efforts to support us, or feeling she’s overwhelmed, or feeling her foundation is being risked, or she could be feeling like her needs are not being met.
Then there could be a more simple reason….. she just does not share our passion for our “great idea!” 😉
So men, what can we do? We can simply ask questions to get to the root of any emotions and disagreements.
I’ve also learned…….still learning and struggling with it too………….to put myself in her shoes and understand when she does say “no”…….. she’s not holding me back, she’s likey speaking up for herself, and I can respect that.