I didn’t wake up one morning and say, “I think I’ll be a controlling husband.” It was a slow process that began innocently enough. I learned patterns from my parents that were problematic, but many of my most positive personality characteristics also come from them.
My dad was a God-fearing, honest, hardworking man who taught me solid moral ethics and set high expectations. He loved my mother deeply and remained faithful to her throughout their marriage, taking care of her and providing for her until the day he died. He did have some difficulty with anger and stress that would be formative in my life.
My mom was a beautiful soul who loved my father with all her heart. She was a model of Christian servanthood, a truly gifted listener, and a selfless person. She wasn’t perfect, and her tendency to worry excessively rubbed off on me as I grew up. I never doubted that my mom and dad loved me, and they were always there for me. Our family doesn’t have any deep, dark secret that explains my behavior.
Isn’t it amazing how much unknown baggage we bring with us into our marriages? Hindsight is 20/20, and in retrospect, I believe that the baggage I brought with me into my marriage caused significant problems. Our baggage is incredibly hard to get rid of; no matter how many times we think we have it secured in the overhead bin, it keeps falling out. We realize that we are replaying tapes from the past, but they are programmed into us so deeply that it takes a lot more than mind over matter to change our thinking and actions.1