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The Fine Line Between A Suggestion and A Push

Well, I confess. My husband and I had a little fight today. Not one of those big ones that last all day, and into the next day, where neither one of us wants to break the silence and we sulk around like 2-year-old's on a rampage. No, not one of those. 

But just a little fight. What was it about? Well, we have been really concentrating on saving money lately, being frugal. Trying to get out from underneath the heavy blanket of debt which threatens to smother us with its big numbers. 

The little tiff was concerning ... wait for it ... satellite television. Pretty ridiculous, right? Well, here is the background. Since moving to the bush, we haven't had any t.v.. They don't offer cable services in our area, and we could not get ourselves to pay those crazy expensive satellite rates. So, our t.v. is just sitting upstairs, an ugly decoration in our bedroom. 

Surprisingly enough, I was the one who wanted t.v.. He didn't. But I wanted it for him. Why was it so important to me? 

Well, at our old place, in the city, we had a routine for our evenings. I wrote online; he watched television. And it worked. Both of us were happy. But here, my gorgeous husband does without. No wrestling, motor cross sports, no programs about building immense bridges, or blowing them up. Nothing exciting to watch. Just Facebook games for my husband. 

And I felt bad for my honey, as I watched him play yet another round of Slotsomania.  He seemed bored, I thought. So, I pushed for getting some satellite service. At around $90 a month, he just saw another bill. And he didn't want it. 

I thought he was just being nice, though, and secretly wanted to get service. My mind raced: "the poor guy, nothing exciting to watch. He needs some macho programs to rev him up!" So, I thought of another way to get it. 

"We could up our internet service, and then just watch Netflix all the time," I suggested.

 "NO! I don't want it. Can't you just listen to what I say? Why do you have to push until you get your way?"

And there it was: the love push. I was pushing. To me, it was love. I thought I knew what he wanted. So, I pushed, for his sake. (I can live without t.v. pretty easily myself.) 

But I was just assuming I knew what he wanted. Instead of believing him, I pushed. I will call it a "love push." I am pushing him out of what I perceive is best for him. But he rightly sees it as manipulation. 

And one more confession. That was not the first little spat we had tonight. We had had one more, just a couple hours before. That was about .... duh-duh-duh ... sour cream! Can you get much sillier than that?? 

And yes, it was another "love push." He had gone to the store for our dinner and got some items for the tacos I was making. 

I had given him a list, but neglected sour cream. When he got back, I realized my mistake, and wondered if he might be able to go and get some sour cream, because it would make the meal just perfect. 

He didn't want to, but I thought it would just wreck his meal if he didn't have it with his taco. When, I suggested he try the little store close by and that it was only ten minutes away, he blew up. He didn't feel like going, and I kept pushing. You see, I "knew" that it would mean so much more for him to have sour cream with his taco. 

Well, he finally did go and get the sour cream (after a few more of my helpful "suggestions") and by the time he got back, both of us were repentant. (And feeling a little silly for fighting over a container of sour cream!) 

I apologized for pushing him, when he clearly did not feel like going. Then, I did it again, with the television. I might be a slow learner, but I am finally starting to get the fact that manipulation can be rooted in love, and maybe that is why I don't realize I am doing it. 

And I also realize that I do have a power of persuasion, and I must be mindful of how I use it, so that's not being used to overcome another person's will, for my own purposes. Because a love push is still a push, no matter what the motive. 

And I think we can easily justify "influencing" people around us for the sake of what's best for them: our children, our partners, our siblings and friends, but at what cost? And is it really best for them? How do we know? 

Please let me know if you have any thoughts; if you can relate. I truly appreciate hearing any comments. 


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2 comments:

  1. I think it's easy for anyone to manipulate out of love, but it's trickiest for me when I expect to be responsible for hubby's happiness. My relationships are all healthiest when I expect the other people to be responsible for their own darn contentment. That said, I feel tremendous guilt about my perceived shortcomings, and I think the 'push' is sometimes my way of trying to ease that guilt. Good article!

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  2. Mary, you make a very good point about boundaries. I know what you mean about guilt being the motivation to push those we love. I agree with you on that one. Thanks for the great comment and have a wonderful day! :D

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