When my neighbor invited me to a girls-only dinner with the rest of the ladies in our neighborhood, I did a lot of things. I checked my calendar. I looked up the restaurant online to scope out the menu (and let’s be honest, the martini selection). I texted to see what everybody else was planning to wear. I changed my mind about my outfit like six times. I debated whether to carry my big purse or just a clutch and whether or not I’d be cold without a jacket.
But of all those things, do you know what I didn’t do?
I didn’t ask my husband if it was OK for me to go.
Sure, I ran it by him, because that’s called consideration. “Hey, Honey, I’m going to dinner with the girls on Wednesday evening. Are you gonna be home, or should I arrange for a sitter?”
But there’s a difference between having the courtesy to let your spouse know you’ve got something planned, and actually asking for their permission.
The great thing about being an adult is that you are no longer under anyone else’s thumb. I never got the pony I begged for as a child, but now that I’m a bona fide grown-up, I could have that pony by this weekend if I wanted to. I could keep it in my living room if I so desired. And there wouldn’t be a damn thing anybody can do about it because I’m an adult and I don’t have to answer to anyone anymore (except maybe the police, but hey).
All right, so that’s a pretty far-fetched example. I would never really buy a pony on a whim and keep it in my living room. But the point is, I didn’t grow up and leave my folks’ house just to move in with someone else who’s going to tell me what I can and can’t do. My husband isn’t my parent; he’s my partner.
Kids have to ask permission for things because their parents are in control. And for good reason: Kids don’t have the best judgment. If they never had to ask permission for anything, they’d stay up late every school night and eat candy for breakfast every morning. As parents, it’s our job to veto some of the things they want because it’s in their best interest. We see consequences where they only see whims, and so we protect them from those consequences by telling them no. This is the nature of the parent/child relationship, dictating (or at least guiding) their choices until they learn to realistically weigh the pros and cons on their own.
But to ask your spouse for permission implies that you can’t be trusted to make a good decision by yourself, and I just can’t get on board with that. There is absolutely nothing wrong with running your plans by one another first. (In fact, it’d be pretty shitty not to.) But this is a common courtesy to make sure you’re not double-booking or forgetting something important.
For example, my husband might want to sign our son up for soccer, but it would mean committing me to driving to an early practice once a week, so he talks to me about it first. Or he wants to purchase a new laptop, but when he tells me, I remind him that we’ve got to replace the tires on the car next month. From there, I leave it alone because he’s an adult and I trust him to make a reasonable choice, one that’s in the best interest of everyone involved.
It is for this very reason that our fairly traditional wedding vows omitted the part about “obeying your spouse.” Love? Check. Honor? Absolutely. But obey? That’s a big hell nah. I want my dog to obey, not my husband. I don’t feel the need to control him, and I wouldn’t want to be with someone who wants to dictate what I’m allowed (or not allowed) to do. Trust is a huge component of a successful relationship, and if the level of trust is low enough that one of you feels the need to control the other’s actions, then you’ve got deeper issues to discuss than, say, your Friday night plans.
I have no desire to act like my husband’s mom. I have enough kids, and I’m asked for permission a bazillion times a day as it is.
When it comes to making a choice for myself, it’s nice to know that I’m not married to someone who feels the need — or the power — to “let” me do something.
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