Aggressively helpful. Not necessarily controlling, right?
That’s how she described herself.
I stared at her for a minute when I first heard her say it. Somewhat incredulous that there was a “term” for this kind of thing.
Neither of us spoke as I tried to decide if she was joking or serious.
This is from our daughter who – among many things – is highly competent. She instinctively knows where things go and what to do next. She’s naturally very efficient and makes sure things are done right as they should be.
Aggressively helpful is how she put it.
I’d not heard it expressed like that before, but it sure made sense to me. Even as we both laughed over it.
One of those funny-but-some-truth-there laughs.
Obviously, helpfulness is a wonderful quality. I mean what could be better than a woman who understands what needs to be done and how to do it?
It could be considered as a gift.
But as fascinating as this revelation was, it’s what my still-quite-single daughter said next that really caught my attention.
“We laugh at it now, Mom, my tendency to be a tad overly helpful. But I have to tell you . . . .
I want to be anything—-anything, but a controlling wife.”
And I knew immediately what she was talking about.
I knew it because I have this same inclination. This same ability to be “aggressively helpful.”
The “Aggressively Helpful” Wife
So it looks something like this:
I know the best way to get to Costco. The quickest and most expedient route.
I know how we should spend our Saturday. Don’t worry, I’ve got a plan.
I know what gifts we should get the family this Christmas–and even know what we can – or can’t – afford.
I know what he’s trying to say and ready to jump in to finish his sentence if necessary.
Basically, I know how we should spend our time, how we should spend our money, and what move we should make next.
I can be extremely helpful that way.
Oh, you too?
But what does this “gift” look like in our marriage?
Rather than a blessing, it can be downright destructive—whether that’s our intention or not.
Because we disguise it as helpful when it’s actually an impulse to control.
Not that you woke up this morning, wondering, “Now how can I be a controlling wife today?”
No, of course not. Your heart is in the right place. You just want to help.
Which is exactly why we can be rather blind to this fault of ours. When we picture a “controlling woman,” we picture a wife who is going around the house telling her husband what to do all the time.
We would never do that.
At least not directly.
After all, that wouldn’t be respectful. Or biblical. Or even nice.
Yet we somehow excuse our actions because we’ve convinced ourselves that it’s for the greater good. It’s about what’s wise. Or practical. Faster. Smarter.
Don’t worry, we’ve got this.
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I Want to be Anything But Controlling
So, I don’t know about you, but I want to be anything—anything, but a controlling wife.
If that means we get to Costco 10 minutes later on his route, let’s go that way.
If we spend Saturday working on house projects instead of that family outing I’d planned, let’s get it done.
Even if we spend more money – or less – on Christmas gifts than I thought necessary, we’ll be okay.
And if he’s trying to say something, just let the guy finish his thought!
You can see I’ve thought a lot about this.
And you might want to take some time to think about it too.
Ask yourself the hard question: Am I really being helpful? Or, have I become a controlling wife?
If you’re feeling brave, you could ask a friend what she thinks. And make her be honest with you.
It might turn out that you could stand to step back a bit. To resist your impulse to take over and set things straight. To lighten up on the controls.
Because sometimes the most helpful thing you can do is to help a little less.
15-Minute Encouragement for Your Marriage
Of course, you’re not a controlling wife . . . you’re just being helpful, right? Are you sure you’re not getting in the way of your husband’s God-given responsibility to lead? Every marriage will look different. Should you step into lead if your husband is passive?
If you’ve got 15 minutes, Matt and I would like to invite you for our FAITHFUL LIFE podcast where I’m sharing — quite openly and honestly — about those ways us wives (as in ME!) can be a little controlling…and yet, how relatively simple it is to change those ways. Hope you can listen in with us!
Matt and Lisa Jacobson, authors of 100 Ways to Love Your Husband and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife, are the hosts of a weekly podcast to talk about what it means to be a biblical Christian in marriage, parenting, church, and culture. Matt and Lisa offer deep encouragement, along with practical steps and true-life stories, as we grow in walking the faithful life together.
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