While I slept, my husband, Candelario, tiptoed to the fridge, quietly removed a two-litre of Pepsi and unscrewed the lid. He heard the ssss of the carbonation and thought of the pleasure that would soon be his.

Suddenly – WHUMP, WHUMP, WHUMP – footsteps thundered down the hall. The fridge door hung open as he ran from the kitchen into the dining room. And that’s where I found him: hiding in a corner and chugging as much Pepsi as he could before I stopped him.

So I may have been a bit controlling, but I had good reasons for forcing my husband to give up pop. After all, it’s loaded with caffeine and calories. Candelario had a problem and needed help.

What self-respecting woman doesn’t try to improve her husband? Couldn’t all men use a little help to watch less TV, eat less junk food, exercise more, go to bed earlier, be more tactful, attend church functions and wear trendier clothes? As a devoted wife, I just wanted to help my husband become the man he was meant to be. What’s wrong with that?

It’s destructive – that’s what.

The making of a "better" man

At first, he humoured me and went along with my "improvements." But Candelario is a confirmed pop addict, and I might as well have signed his death warrant. Not surprisingly, he soon began his late-night pop binges – and probably drank more than he did before my ban.

Candelario resisted my efforts to improve him in other areas, too. He went to bed late and failed to show up on time to functions I thought were important. Every time he went against my wishes, I obsessed about how great our marriage could be if Candelario would just . . . (fill in the blank). The harder I tried to change Candelario, the more we fought and the farther apart we grew. Ironically, my controlling behaviour caused far greater harm to our marriage than Candelario’s pop drinking did to his health.

The funny thing was, I hated being controlled myself. But for some reason, when I saw the chance to tell Candelario what to do, I seized the opportunity like he seizes a two-litre of Pepsi. So if I hated being controlled, why did I feel so compelled to control Candelario?

God provided the answer.

The making of a better wife

One day, after a series of conflict-ridden months, I called my mentor in tears and confessed for the first time that I was a control freak. (I’m sure the angels in heaven high-fived each other.) That day, God began peeling back the layers of my behaviour to show me why I needed to stop trying to control my husband.

The core issue was my lack of faith. I didn’t truly believe God was in control of Candelario, so I took matters into my own hands. He also showed me that I focused so much on Candelario’s need for change that I missed my own. Finally, God revealed my own lack of self-control. It was much easier to control someone else than to control myself, but part of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control – not husband-control.

A strange thing happened after I started down the road to control-freak recovery. Not only did I become more laid-back and happy, but Candelario began to change, too. I stopped complaining about his going to bed too late, and once in a while, I find him in bed before me. I stopped nagging him to quit drinking pop, and he still drinks it, but not quite as much – and late-night pop binges are no longer necessary.

So, I am learning that I need to allow God to change me and that I am not responsible to change Candelario. It’s funny how, when I shut my mouth, Candelario can hear God’s still small voice so much better.

© 2009 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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