“His strength doesn’t rob me of my own.” Sharon Pope
As a young girl, I saw my mom work hard, going from a part-time secretary when I was six years old to becoming a VP of HR by the time I was in high school. My dad, on the other hand, always struggled in his career, changing jobs, quitting jobs, being unemployed or underemployed.
What that experience taught me at a young age was to be driven and self-sufficient but also, to not depend upon men. As a result, I’ve always been fiercely independent.
This independence has served me well in many ways:
My independence, however, has also hurt me in one important way:
I wouldn’t readily make space in my relationships for men to take care of me.
Men are traditionally the providers and the protectors, but if you were a man in relationship with me…what exactly was your role? I didn’t need you to provide for me, nor did I think I was a damsel in distress needing protection.
The very thing that had made me so successful in business was the same thing that was destroying my most intimate relationships.
I will never forget when my husband, Derrick and I were living together early on in our relationship. I was coming into the house carrying two heavy armfuls of groceries in 4” heels. I was out of breath and the groceries were on the verge of crashing to the floor. He comes running over to me and starts taking them out of my arms. I was only a few steps away from the kitchen, so I was confused. He stopped, looked at me and said:
“You shouldn’t have to struggle, Baby. Next time, just let me know and I’ll come and carry the bags.”
Was he serious?
I felt like all I did was struggle…
I had become very used to struggling…
And I had been wearing it as a badge of honor.
He wanted to take care of me, take away some of my struggle, but until that day I didn’t make space for that and really couldn’t recognize or receive it when it was offered.
It made me realize that I can let someone take care of me, that I don’t have to push so hard and struggle so much.
Just because I can do it all on my own doesn’t mean I want to. I can soften without being weak and his strength doesn’t rob me of my own.
To this day, it might be one of the sweetest things he’s ever said to me and one of the greatest gifts he’s given to me.
If you suspect that your independence might be negatively impacting your marriage, but struggle with letting go…believe me, I understand. Maybe there’s a fit for you and I to work through it together.