Ok, so the title may make it seem like my husband is horrible – but in reality he is a kind, sweet, loving man and an awesome father….he just likes some things to be done in a particular way. For example, the other morning, I was writing a list up on the dry erase board for the week with a green marker, when from across the room I hear “you sure you want to use that marker?” I turned to him and asked “what do you mean?” To which he replied “Well, I can’t read that, you might want to use the red marker instead” to which I replied “well I can read it so I think it’s fine” to which he replied ” but you won’t be able to read it when it fades, just use the darker marker, you’ll thank me later”. At this point, I smile, and turn back to the board, and continue writing with the green marker. I can feel my husband looking at me from behind, but he decides to go back to helping my son clean up his toys.
Exchanges like this rarely happen anymore, and after 11 years of marriage I’ve learned ways to manage them (see the next section). But when we were first married, they were more frequent, and I took them more personally. I used to think that I was wrong, or that I was stupid, or that I really didn’t know what the hell I was doing.
Being micromanaged can feel demeaning and defeating, especially when you’re being micromanaged over something you might see as insignificant, such as how the vegetables are being chopped, how the floor is being swept, or how the bed is made. “Wow, if I can’t even chop vegetables correctly, I must be an idiot” I would think. It has taken tears, therapy, reading and lots of talking to get to a place of understanding between my husband and I on how we both feel.
Managing a Micromanager
One thing I’ve learned over the years is how to handle my reactions in these types of situations – in the past I used to take every exchange personally, almost like an “attack” – but what I’ve realized over the years is any situation, this type in particular, can be diffused with humor. There’s been a few times where my husband will stand over my shoulder and say “are you sure you want to cook the eggs like that?” and while my gut reaction would be to get hurt, my conscious reaction goes more like this “Ok buddy, you can either suck it up and accept my eggs as they are, or you can get your own breakfast, because either way, this is how the eggs are being made” Usually that gets my husband to laugh, or say fine and then get a bowl of cereal.
Another trick I learned over the years to manage my reactions is to think (and often say) “Because of what I’m doing, is someone getting sick, hurt or dying? If not, it doesn’t matter.” There are WAY more important things to worry about in life than how the grass is being cut in the backyard, or how the plates are stacked in the cupboard. Having perspective helps all around.
But I’ve also come to realize micromanaging can sometimes come from a good place – sometimes my husband truly has the best intention, like thinking about our safety, our comfort, the money we spend or the time we have together.
Over the years, we’ve talked about how it helps to ‘ask vs. tell’, or ‘show vs. do’ in an effort to really communicate his intention. But overall, you can’t change someone, only accept them the way they are.
So to those of you reading this who are the micromanager (you know who you are) remember that your actions and words carry weight, and it is all our responsibility to accept our spouses for who they are. So even if your spouse isn’t doing things the way you want them to be done, it doesn’t mean they aren’t doing them the “right” way, they are doing things the best way they can, and it’s our job to respect that.