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Fighting for Control

Swallowing my pride to save my marriage
Fighting for Control
Image: CHERNOSKUTOV MIKHAIL / SHUTTERSTOCK

I was dumbfounded, not really understanding what I’d just heard. My husband and I were at the gym together. Free weights, mirrors, machines, the smell of rubber and sweat. He said it again: “When I tell you to get up, I mean now. Move quickly.”

I shook my head still in disbelief. My husband does not speak to me this way. It’s been many years since we learned the kind of communication required to keep a marriage together. We speak to each other with respect, patience, and kindness. Yet he said it not once but twice.

I restrained my constant companion (pride) and resisted the urge to fold my arms across my chest and glare. I stood quickly and turned around for my next instruction. It’s not about me. It’s about heart rate, I told myself. It’s not about us. It’s about physical improvement. It’s not about him. It’s about following instructions.

Each week, I have an opportunity to practice submission at the gym. Greg is not only my husband, but he is also my personal trainer. He’s excellent at his job, but following instructions without the benefit of a “please,” “thank you,” or more importantly for me, a 30-minute conversation about why I might consider the next 10 minutes of activity good for me, is a challenge.

Our Marriage Didn’t Start this Way—It Was Much Worse

Greg has not always been my personal trainer. In the 10 years we’ve been married, we have started and stopped our relationship more than once. From the beginning, he and I struggled for control over everything. In a new marriage and a blended family of four teenage children, we battled over discipline; we played tug-of-war with ex-spouses; we argued over nutrition, family fitness, and, of course, money. At a time when our children needed unity and strong leadership, he and I could not agree on anything. Our marriage was a mess.

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