Pride Goeth Before A Fall – Can Your Marriage Hold Up?
I’m just going to lay this out there now: How often has your pride stood in the way of moving forward in a relationship? Do you find yourself trying to “keep up with the Joneses” or do you get so worked up about things that it seems too big to back off of, even if you start to second-guess yourself?
I remember in my childhood hearing that old King James Version quote from the bible, “Pride goeth before a fall.” (Technically speaking, the 1611 version of the KJB says this: Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18)
Ah, that wonderful pride. Wikipedia lays it out well in saying this:
Pride is an inwardly directed emotion that carries two antithetical meanings. With a negative connotation pride refers to a foolishly and irrationally corrupt sense of one’s personal value, status or accomplishments, used synonymously with hubris. With a positive connotation, pride refers to a humble and content sense of attachment toward one’s own or another’s choices and actions, or toward a whole group of people, and is a product of praise, independent self-reflection, and a fulfilled feeling of belonging.
Who Wears the Pants In Your Family?
This is a biggie, and a perfect example of where pride can go from a positive to a negative. Growing up, my family was, in many ways, a very traditional household. For the majority of my childhood, my father was the sole breadwinner and my mother stayed home with us. With our variety of schooling, there were years where she was the homeschool queen, creating all kinds of incredible experiences for us, and others where she would greet me at the bus stop after my day in public school, and we’d walk back home to have tea and homemade cookies.
Yes, my mother was definitely Mrs. Suzy Homemaker. She prided herself in that, and it was a very positive thing. She still loves to play “mama” to so many, and although she doesn’t cook at the same level as she did when she had a houseful of growing children, she still is the “safe haven” for many to come and sit with her over a cup of tea.
My father can do a lot of things – but his role in our home has always been the stereotypical one. He does “man work.” He is Mr. Fix-it and the one who brings home the bacon (not literally since all his kids were vegetarian). The extent of his cooking abilities, however, were our Sunday “family movie” night meal: PB&J sandwiches and popcorn. That he could rock. He definitely “wore the pants” and my mother was the queen of the home.
My Mother, The Original Suzy Homemaker
Mama made all kinds of fabulous feasts. She learned from her mother-in-law who grew up Amish. Our times in the kitchen typically meant everything was made from scratch…and typically could take up an insane amount of time. It wasn’t just about the final outcome, but truly embracing the joy of cooking. That was actually a very significant wedding gift I got from my aunt – The Joy Of Cooking cookbook! Mom and I used that as our Bible, and I poured over it in the early years of our marriage. I had my cookbook and my Kitchenaid: I was ready to be a wife.
Mom taught me how to sew, garden, raise kids, homeschool, put on makeup and what fashion was, and how to make melt-in-your mouth desserts. She was – and is still – an incredible teacher, and it’s what I admire most about her. Her patience in teaching others has allowed her to thrive in the role of the traditional mama. She even wrote a book about our lives and how she spent her life making her home a true “haven of peace”:
Cue The Next Generation
Guess what I aspired to be? Yep, just like her. I would make incredible meals and put a ton of time and energy into it. However, I had two things against me. And they were pretty substantial.
I Am Not My Mother
You have heard me talk so much about personality styles. They can be vastly different. I married my mother’s personality style – it’s not who I am. I am a high D/I on the DISC personality profile. In simple terms, it would be this:
- Mama: nurturing, supportive, loyal, people-focused, slower to process/act, lower energy, dislikes confrontation, seeks comfort and security as a top priority.
- Me: driven, decisive, opinionated, high energy, fast paced, loves challenges, impatient, seeks achievement and accomplishment and can be very task-focused.
I, unlike my mother, loved the beauty of a fast-paced professional environment. Crisis and challenges motivate me, and I have no fear rushing in head-on. And what I’ve found is that I can make a damn good businesswoman.
Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love being a mother. I love the “suzy homemaker” role and doing so much of what my mother did for me. But I had to step aside and recognize that I have a skill set that is different from her’s. A competitive work environment that is task-focused and fast-paced stimulates me, and I had to look at whether not working was a good fit for me. Clearly you see I’ve decided that not only working, but creating my own business was something that fired me up and got me excited.
Enter My Fabulous Husband
Now, Nathan is not hurting in the sexy man arena. He has an awesome ability to fix things, a ridiculous strength that surprises people, and I feel 100% safe with him for anything we would get into – both mentally and physically. He carries his weight with so much, and is my ruggedly handsome hippie outdoorsman.
And…in his home, his Dad loved to cook. Guess what he passed on to his son. Now, I can follow a recipe just fine. I will wear my badge of honor that my baking is a whole other level – I can rock the desserts. But I swear, Nathan can open up a pantry of complete randomness and make a meal that not only blows us away in taste, but even looks amazing.
He’s not like my mother in every way, but Nathan has the intuitive element of not only taking care of others, but being perceptive enough to recognize their needs right away. For people like Nathan and Mama, this comes naturally. They encourage and support very easily. And they thrive in doing things for others. Mama took it to the extreme and says she has “enabling down to a fine art.”
Not to completely throw myself under the bus, but for me, this is more of a learned trait. My perceptive side will read someone and jump straight to the end result – what we can do to move forward. That’s exactly why I am a coach and not a counselor. I’ve learned a lot from my husband and mother on the importance of patience and allowing people to simply be heard and supported right where they are.
Wonder Woman – Identify Your SuperPower!
I grew up with traditional roles of what a mother and a father do in the house. It was a tough pill for me to swallow to acknowledge the fact that Nathan was better at cooking and supporting than I was.
For a while, I fought it and tried to do it all. I was “queen mama” just like my mother. I cooked, cleaned, ran the whole household and also juggled my work in the midst of it all.
Guess what? I may be highly driven and accomplish a ton when I set my mind to it, but Wonder Woman, I am not. My superpower is not doing everything (come to think of it, hers isn’t either). We all have superpowers, but mastering everything isn’t it. Community and connection are so paramount to our success in this world.
I was utterly exhausted. I had two small children who weren’t sleeping through the night. Nathan and I both knew that nighttime interruptions were completely my area – he is not one for waking up in the middle of a deep sleep and having any idea what is going on. I was up all night, and rose with the babies while Nathan rushed off to work. Oh, to be the perfect Pinterest mom, the overachiever who carried the weight of a whole company on her shoulders, and also have the house in perfect order all the time. I refused to admit I was failing miserably.
Yet Nathan would come home after a long day and I’d look up frantically from my computer as I was rattling off “just one more email” while the kids were glued to the TV screen and I realized it was 6pm and I hadn’t even thought up dinner. Or, better yet, I had completely come up with the perfect recipe and then realized that if I dove in at that point, we would be lucky to eat by 9pm.[clickToTweet tweet=”We have to allow others to thrive in their strengths, and give them space to do so. ” quote=”We have to allow others to thrive in their strengths, and give them space to do so.”]
So What Does This All Have To Do With Pride?
I was so angry. I was immediately on the defensive when he walked in, trying to get him to see why it wasn’t all accomplished and justifying my day away. And I was mad at myself for failing everyone. And I so didn’t want to admit that I couldn’t do it…yet failing at doing it all was an even worse fate.
My pride was there, and I was falling hard. I had to let go of my own ideal – this picture I created in my head of what our family would look like and what I would be. I had to take a step back and admit that it was too much and I needed help. That’s hard to do.
What can we get stuck in when our pride wants to drive the boat?
Some big lessons I learned through this experience:
- Claim your role in the family – what your strengths are vs. your idea of what it should look like.
- Acknowledge your own emotions – it’s okay to be hurt, to cry, to lose your temper and not get it right all the time
- Apologize – own your role in affecting another – and truly ask for forgiveness in what you did, not how they feel. Take responsibility for all your actions and recognize the impact it has on another.
- Don’t Hold onto your “right” – when you dig your heels in the sand and the fight becomes bigger than the person – is it really worth it?
I’m happy to say that now, in our home, these pride issues have gotten less and less. We have been guilty of all of them, and we’ve chosen to work through it together. Now, on the road, I am the workhorse. I still manage my father’s business as well as my newest baby here – Mama Says Namaste. Nathan is the head chef. I may dabble here and there, but he said once we hit the road, he was happy to handle all the food, and I gratefully agreed. I’d say that was the right choice:
Really, though, what happened is not that we stuck to specific roles that the other couldn’t touch. Once we made the decision that we were a team and that our relationship came before pride, it was easier for us to work together – and ask for help when needed.
Where is pride holding you up in your relationship? Has it isolated you into a role you’d like to get out of?
Comment below or e-mail your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.